Last Thursday, the North Dakota Legislature made one of the most egregious moves of the 66th Legislative Session by inserting an amendment into Senate Bill 2004 that strips the State Auditor of his authority to initiate performance audits. It’s a petty and childish move of political retribution from a majority of lawmakers who apparently want to send a message to our current State Auditor Josh Gallion that they’re not happy with him actually doing his job. You know, to bring accountability and transparency to Bismarck.
In the aftermath of SB 2004 passing, a movement took place to contact Governor Doug Burgum and ask him to utilize his line item veto authority to end this power grab. Though Burgum himself was the subject of one of Gallion’s more notorious audits since taking office, I think it’s fair to say that most people felt the Governor was mature enough to rise above political games. Apparently we were wrong.
Today it was revealed on the Governor’s website that Doug Burgum signed the remaining 53 bills of the 66th Legislative Assembly and only vetoed one. That veto took place in Section 19 of Senate Bill 2015. This means that Governor Burgum literally put his signature of approval to stripping the State Auditor of his independent authority to conduct performance audits at his discretion. It’s an unprecedented move.
Going forward, State Auditor Josh Gallion — and his successors — will be required to get permission from the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee before he proceeds with any performance audits. In short, we no longer have an independent State Auditor. The decision of the 2019 Legislature to pass this is beyond bad. And the fact that Governor Burgum didn’t rise above the pettiness of politics borders on unforgivable.
State Auditor Josh Gallion isn’t the only one to take a hit with this decision. The people are the biggest losers today. It’s a sad commentary for North Dakota— where accountability and transparency are apparently to be stifled, not protected.
PLEASE LIKE & SHARE!